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FCW : September 30, 2013
how interpersonal interactions shape career and organizational success. He identifies three workplace person- alities: givers, takers and matchers. Givers enjoy contributing to others without expecting anything in return. Takers get more than they give and focus on their own self-interest. Matchers track favors to maintain an even balance of giving and receiving. Across all the professions and job functions Grant studied, givers were consistently among the worst- performing employees because they exhausted their reserves and set aside their own priorities out of misplaced generosity. But surprisingly, givers were also found in the ranks of the most successful employees. "The difference between success and failure is how well you balance concern for others with your own ambitions," Grant told FCW. "A lot of givers think you have to be Gandhi or Mother Teresa. That is obviously not sustainable." In Grant s research, successful giv- ers looked for strategic ways to help others at a low personal cost and in a manner that t their expertise and skills. They were also careful to assist other givers and matchers rather than takers. Most important, they asked for help when they needed it. "A lot of the failed givers were try- ing to help in all the different ways that people needed it, which turns out to be remarkably inef cient and exhausting," Grant said. The implications for managers are far-ranging. The advice starts with doing your best to hire givers and cull any takers from your work- group. Then you should recognize, reward and promote givers when- ever possible. In addition, set norms that encourage employees to seek help when needed. And nally, help everyone identify ways to give that match their energy levels, skill sets and workplace style. "Help people on your team to gure out what are their signature forms of giving that help them and the organi- zation," Grant said. Consider establishing a "reciproc- ity ring" that brings together a group of employees to exchange favors. Whether it includes eight people or 100, that structure can more effi- ciently match the help needed with the unique attributes of the person who will give assistance. "You can get about 80 percent of the requests ful lled" with this method, Grant said. "You can immediately go to the person who s best able to help you." Technology specialists can play a role in nding creative ways to use technology to facilitate the exchange of giving, he added. When identifying givers, takers and matchers, don t fall into the trap of thinking that people who are friend- ly are givers and those who are dour and skeptical are takers. Construc- tive criticism can be one of the most important gifts from one colleague to another, although it is not as pleasant to receive as an empty compliment. "We need to value and recognize the disagreeable givers more," Grant said. "These are the people who are com- fortable giving tough feedback, calling out an initiative that senior leaders are championing, and advocating for unpopular and important reforms." It is also important to continue to motivate givers by helping them understand in a vivid and meaning- ful way how their work is helping col- leagues, customers, stakeholders and the general public. "In the information technology world, a lot of times you re creating solutions that bene t people who are many steps down the chain," Grant said. "You never get to see or meet those people. That s a major source of burnout." 2 A recent study led by Olav Soren- son, a professor at Yale University s School of Management, examined more than 10,000 employee ideas that a large, multinational consumer goods company had solicited as part of an initiative to spur innovation. The researchers found that manag- ers favored new ideas submitted by employees in their own divisions at a rate nearly 16 percentage points high- er than the typical acceptance rate of 42 percent. The bias persisted even when the researchers corrected for the quality of the idea, a nding that bodes ill for workplace innovation. "Especially in larger organizations, people tend to identify more with the sub-unit they re in than [with] the organization as a whole," Sorenson said. "The problem with that effect for September 30, 2013 FCW.COM 25 rleader
September 15, 2013
October 30, 2013